Leading Card Grader PSA Doubles Prices as Industry Booms
Kris Connor/Getty Images. Pictured: Baseball cards
PSA, the leader in card grading, dramatically changed its prices on Monday as the uptick in the industry left the company with a backlog of an untold millions of cards.
Pricing in most areas has doubled. The lowest level, with the slowest service, goes from $10 a card to $20 a card and imposes a 10-card minimum. The highest level of express pricing, which gets cards back to collectors in about a month, doubled in price from $75 a card to $150 a card. The company plans on having specials to open areas of grading that are less busy than others.
Attempts to immediately reach PSA’s parent company, Collectors Universe, which sold a couple weeks ago for $853 million, were not successful.
“I think it’s a big shock to the industry,” said Leighton Sheldon, who owns Just Collect, which buys vintage cards from big collections and sells them. “I know a lot of collectors are sore and upset, but I’ve been telling people to plan for it. The bottom line is that graded cards sell at a serious premium to ungraded cards and PSA knows that.”
Ungraded 1986 Fleer Jordan and 1979 O-Pee-Chee Gretzkys, no matter how good they look, are now virtually unbuyable on eBay, while PSA 10’s of those cards went for more than $600,000 and $1.2 million, respectively.
Sheldon said that some raw cards that collectors used to send into PSA hoping for the best might wind up not being sent in anymore because it’s not known how long the slowest option will take to turn around.
PSA hasn’t said how many cards are backlogged, but Josh Cohen, who co-owns card submitting middle man service PC Sportscards, said that it might be in the nine million card range. He believes that his company submits 5-7% of the total cards submitted to PSA and he has more than 400,000 cards waiting to be graded.
“People have in their head that the delay on the lowest level of service is six to 8 months, but that’s if you submitted last May or June,” Cohen said. “It’s longer if it was after that.”
Cohen said some consumers think that PSA should lower prices because of the backlog, but Cohen says that doesn’t make any sense. The company, now backed by famed collector Nat Turner, The Chernin Group (investor in The Action Network) and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, is in more demand than ever before.
Cohen’s company accepts submissions from collectors, and because the company sends them in together, they get a discount. In 2019, PC Sportscards sent in 38,000 cards to be graded at PSA. They submitted 30,000 cards last week alone.
It’s not known how the move will change the industry. Will PSA hire more graders to speed up the bottleneck? Will it deter customers from sending in more?
Bottom line is PSA’s bottom line is about to get bigger and it’s hard to argue with them taking a greater piece of the market that they helped create.